Some political experts perplexed by low voter turnout Tuesday

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Voters headed to the polls on Tuesday, April 2nd for an off-year Spring General Election. Although these off-year elections don’t feature big names or big races — like a presidential or gubernatorial race, there is still a lot at stake in this election. That’s why those who follow politics were somewhat perplexed by the low turnout on Tuesday.

A small but steady number of voters cast ballots at the YMCA on Milwaukee’s northwest side on Tuesday. That included Nicole Hartley, who says this election means just as much, if not more than a national election.

“Sometimes when you vote in these off elections, they have more impact on your everyday life than presidential elections do,” Hartley said.

UW-Milwaukee Professor of Governmental Affairs Mordecai Lee says that may well be the case on Tuesday, with voters deciding the balance in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

“Depending on the results of today’s election, either the conservative majority is retained or it’s flipped and conservatives become the minority,” Lee said.

The other high-profile vote is the race for state Superintendent of Public Instruction, which Lee calls a referendum of sorts.

“Do we expand choice or do we stick with what we’ve got right now and in a low-turnout election, just about anything can happen,” Lee said.

In a low-turnout election, each vote carries more weight. That’s why Lee says voters should be especially proud of the ballots they cast Tuesday.

“Makes me feel like I’m doing something important. It makes me feel like I’m doing something for my family and for the community,” Starla Henson said.

“I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’ve voted in just about every single election since I turned 18. I’ve only missed a few because I just think it’s important. It’s one of the rights we were given and I take it seriously,” Hartley said.

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board says it expects statewide turnout of about 20% for this election. That compares to about 70% turnout for the presidential election in November.

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